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Lorenzo Silitto and Dougy Mandagi of The Temper Trap

The Temper Trap

The Temper Trap at Spaceland, Los Angeles, March 24th, 2009

Mar 28, 2009 The Temper Trap Bookmark and Share

Fresh from its SXSW appearances just days ago, Melbourne’s The Temper Trap blazed through an eight-song, 40-minute set at Spaceland in Silver Lake on Monday night, rousing a packed room of curiosity-seekers and latecomers with its blend of anthemic soul and tempestuous, guitar-charged crescendos. Officially a four-piece, the band has been performing with an additional guitarist, giving its songs more muscle in a live setting. To a degree, The Temper Trap sounds slick and ambiguous on its recordings, as if an electro-inflected emo band were interpreting U2 or Radiohead. But on stage, there were no pretensions of loftiness or detached cool. With his large T-shirt and porkpie hat, frontman Dougy Mandagi sported the casual look of someone who might be spinning turntables rather than belting out impassioned rock songs, yet he immersed himself in the music just the same, singing mostly with eyes closed. Between songs, he smiled and joked: “We like playing here because of all the good-looking people.”

The Temper Trap released a self-titled four-track EP in 2006, but none of those songs surfaced on Monday. The bulk of the band’s set likely consisted of songs from its forthcoming full-length debut, produced by Jim Abbiss, who worked on the debuts by Artic Monkeys and Adele. After taking the stage and breaking into a heated instrumental, the band sustained the energy with a song noted as “Rest” on the set list. For “Down River,” bassist Jonny Aherne strapped on an acoustic guitar and strummed chords that initially evoked “Walk on the Wild Side” before the song evolved into a multi-vocal sing-along.

“Sweet Disposition” drew cheers when Mandagi introduced it. The song appears in this summer’s Fox Searchlight release (500) Days of Summer (starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel) and was used in the film’s teaser trailer. Although (500) Days of Summer premiered at SXSW, guitarist Lorenzo Silitto asked whether the film is any good, as he still had not seen it. “Sweet Disposition” opens with Silitto playing an Edge-like delayed riff and Mandagi singing in a soft falsetto that brings to mind Jimmy Somerville on Bronski Beat’s “Smalltown Boy.” “Sweet Disposition” was indeed a highlight, but The Temper Trap grew more impressive after that song, loosening up and beginning to command the stage. Aherne lumbered around in wide, monster-like steps and Mandagi abandoned the mic to pound on a tom fixed in front of drummer Toby Dundas’ kit. By the middle of the angst-driven “Science of Fear,” when cascades of dueling guitars amplified the intensity of the climactic set-closer, it became conclusive that The Temper Trap’s music already is too big for clubs like Spaceland.

Author rating: 7/10


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